Celebrating sixty years of Dr Martens: what they mean to me

Em Richardson recounts her memories of Docs as they celebrate their 60th Birthday, and why she expects they'll have many, many more

Em Richardson
5th April 2020
Anyone who knows me knows about my love for Dr Martens. On any given day, it’s highly likely that I’ll be wearing one of my 21 (yes, really!) pairs. Over the past seven years, I’ve owned an incredible array of ‘Docs’, from leopard print to walking boots, to rainbow tie-dye. To put it simply: I have a bit of a problem.

With this in mind, I’m not at all surprised that the Dr Marten brand has made it to their sixtieth anniversary, or that they have remained so popular.

My personal love affair with Docs began when I received a tartan pair for my fourteenth birthday. At the time, I was going through a phase of being obsessed with vintage fashion, and I loved the ‘punk’ vibe of the checked pair I received. Over the subsequent years, my style has evolved somewhat, but Docs are still my shoe of choice. I love the fact they come in such a diverse selection of styles and patterns, meaning I’ve always been able to find a pair to suit my current style. I’ve worn them on just about every conceivable occasion too, even including Christenings! They’re also incredibly comfy- I’m sure others will agree that they’re a nightmare to break in, but when they eventually mould to the shape of your feet, there really is nothing better. My Docs have quite literally carried me everywhere from Welsh mountains to Maltese beaches, to Niagara Falls, all whilst looking great.

Of course, the brand has other, more interesting fans. During the 1960s, they became associated with various subcultures, including punks and ‘skin-heads’. Photographs of these iconic groups invariably feature a trusty pair of Docs. At around the same time, several rock groups also wore the boots on stage, most famously Peter Townsend of The Who.

They really will last a lifetime, all while looking great

Over time, Docs have gained more ‘socially acceptable’ popularity, with Labour MP Tony Benn famously wearing them in Parliament in the early 1980s. Today, they are more popular than ever, appealing to people from all walks of life. I think this is partly due to their decision to release some more subtle styles, like the ever-popular Matte Black style (personally, I like my Docs loud and proud, but this style is definitely less intimidating for first-time buyers!). From my 54-year old father (the proud owner of six pairs of Docs, one of which he wears to work every day) to my 20-year old friends, there really is a pair for everyone. It helps that the boots are indestructible too- if you look after them, they really will last a lifetime, all while looking great. A good pair of Docs is an investment you won’t regret.

I’m fairly confident that in another sixty years, these boots will continue to be as popular (and as sturdy) as ever. If nothing else, I know I’ll still be wearing them when I’m eighty!

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